How to Recover Your Security Deposit

by Freeland D. Oliverio, Attorney at Law

email: foliverio@bmblaw.com :: office: 330.253.3337 :: mobile: 330.760.2494

Ohio Law Protects Tenant Rights

If you have ever had a lease on a house or apartment, you likely understand that dealing with landlords – especially when it concerns your security deposit – can be difficult, to say the least. In college, I had several friends who moved out of their residences and were forced to wait several months without hearing a word from their previous landlords regarding their security deposits. When they did finally get their security deposit, many of these friends found the landlord had given them a mere fraction of what they had paid, with no explanation as to why the landlord had kept part of the deposit.

Unbeknownst to these friends, Ohio has a law addressing such landlord-tenant issues. In fact, under Ohio laws, tenants may be able to recover up to twice the amount of their original security deposit if certain conditions are met.

Under Ohio Revised Code 5321.16, a landlord is allowed to use a tenant’s security deposit to satisfy any past due rent, or to fix damages to the property. However, in order to do so, the landlord is required to do the following:

  1. The landlord must itemize and list any deductions made from the security deposit.
  2. The landlord must send this itemized list of deductions and the remainder of the deposit to the former tenant.
  3. The landlord must accomplish this within 30 days after the termination of the rental agreement and delivery of the property back to the landlord. 

If the landlord fails to abide by these requirements, the tenant may recover double the amount of money wrongfully held by the landlord, plus attorney fees.

There is one important caveat to all of this. In order to recover against a landlord, the tenant must send to them, in writing, the new forwarding address to which the security deposit may be sent. If a tenant fails to do so, he or she will be unable to recover the full amount paid.

So, let’s assume a tenant puts down $1,000 as a security deposit to the landlord. Once the tenant’s lease is up, he emails his landlord a forwarding address where the landlord can send the security deposit. Thirty-one (31) days after moving out, the landlord has refused to give the tenant any portion of the security deposit and has provided no itemized list of damages to the tenant. The tenant in this scenario could hire an attorney to recover $2,000, plus any attorney fees accrued during this litigation.


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If you have questions about landlord-tenant law or think you may be entitled to recover your security deposit, please call BMB today at 330.253.3337 or fill out this form for a free consultation.